Thursday, April 20, 2017

Some Things That Are Working (And A Few Things That Aren't)

Mid way through this school year, some clay issues popped up.  Art teachers is several buildings were having issues with clay projects cracking completely in two as they dried, the clay texture straight out of the bag was odd. . .Our clay supplier had switched clay suppliers, and an [almost] emergency professional development session was held to try and fix the clay issues.  In that PD session, the clay guru guy said "you should never be drying clay completely uncovered." Um, great, except my room is tiny??? And I see nearly 500 students in that room??? His suggestion was this movable/on wheels clay cart with fancy plastic sheeting.  Great, except soopa expensive! 
Here was my solution:

Ta DA! It's an old library cart, shelves covered with newspaper, with a plastic table cloth draped over.  Works perfectly.  And after all of that, it turned out that the clay teachers were having trouble with got frozen somewhere along the way.

Also working, keeping water ready to go for painting at one end of the sink at all times:

Love my square/nearly un-tippable cups!
"Cause ain't no one got time for filling water cups while passing out brushes and paint!

Suddenly NOT WORKING this year, my pencil sharpeners on yarn:

Note that four out of five are missing!
Ultra low-tech (as in none) and totally working, my reminder sign for my kiln:

Why, yes, that IS a kiln cage right there in the corner of my classroom!
Thanks so much for asking!
I use a dry erase marker and write the time I need to turn it up, because A) I have a manual kiln and B) I've been known to totally forget and run it on low fore many more hours than I need/want to.

Also working this year, new signage for the paper cutter:

I sat in a student chair before the year began this year to re-evaluate
signs I needed students to see.  This one was added.

This sign has always been ON the paper cutter but is a bit above kid-height.
Not working well this year:

Fifth grade Gustav Klimt project

It's SO HARD to scratch!  I really think it's because it's been in my cabinet for a while and it's along an un-insulated wall, so it's got hot/cold for several years.  Super frustrating!
Well, I'm sure there are more things working/not working around here (me, some days!) and I like to re-evaluate at this time of the year.  You know, AFTER the art show (moving it to early March is my favorite thing we ever did!) when I have a chance to think again.
Happy art teaching, friends, the end is in sight!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

"I'm a Really Good Dancer."

Nothing like spending your day with kids.  Yesterday (or was it the day before?) I had kindergarten lined up in the hall for their teacher and the student at the end of the line was gettin' DOWN: spinning, hip-shaking, groovin'.  All silently.  He spun around and put his hand on his hip and said "You know, I'm a REALLY good dancer!"  It was amazing.  
It's all those little moments that make being an elementary art teacher the best thing.  And the projects that turn out so unexpectedly wonderful, like these tiny painted houses my sixth graders made:

They're TINY, like an inch or two.  I gave each student a tiny little amount of clay and just had them use their hands to flatten it out.  They then used some clay tools to cut a house shape and the Designer Liners underglaze for decoration. Students were also told to use a straw to cut a hole (or two) to hang their houses when finished.
 I had given each student a small (maybe 4 x 6) piece of pink tagboard with their name on it so I could just add their name after they left.  I love them all, and if any child doesn't want theirs I'm totally keeping it!

This student is originally from Iran,
and I love that she made double doors.
I bisque fired them and then decided they all needed a clear coat of glaze, so they're in the kiln ready for firing again.  I'll take a photo of them finished.
Happy spring, everyone!  Only six more weeks or so!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Maybe I Need To Change My Definitions????

While I was working on my signs for the art show, I sent an email to my staff asking for "old, yucky crayons."  Several staff members responded, and I'm STILL getting crayons from people (and I soooo appreciate it).  But, maybe my definition is vastly different?  Because I tell you, I got brand new crayons!  So many brand-spanking-new white crayons that I started pulling them out for crayon resists and things like that.  Maybe it's a different mindset when students/parents are supplying the crayons vs. buying them with your own budgets?  I have no idea, but I'll definitely be sending out a "I'll take any leftover art supplies" email to staff at the end of the year!
Why have I never realized this?

Friday, March 10, 2017

2017 Art Show, In the Books

It was epic, friends!  I think we had our best turnout EV-AH, and if I wasn't exhausted I'd be more detailed, but here's some photos from last night:
Art work glued to black roll paper and ready to hang.

Sixth grade Africa-inspired work

Some kindergarten work

Second grade

First grade

More first grade

Fourth grade
If you'll remember, one of my art show goals this year was more/better signage for getting patrons down to the "Make Art" stations:

They worked well, and they were free.  I had some co-workers save gallon milk jugs and I used broken crayons to weigh them down:


If there's one thing art teachers have plenty of it's old, broken crayons!
The foam core I used for the signs themselves was a pretty beat up donation that's been in my room forever, and the wooden stakes were dirty and given to me by the PE teacher 9 or so years ago, so total cost=FREE.
One thing I will do for next year, I'll add an arrow in my classroom door as I came back to a room full of people after checking on my Make Art stations.  I guess if you tell kids, "you'll get to make some art" they assume it will be in the art room.  Go figure!
I will be driving around with these signs in the back of my minivan when the weather turns warmer to get the crayons to melt into a mass for next year.
The Make Art stations were heavily attended, with the painting station at fourth grade being the most popular:

Third grade Make Art symmetry design station.

Sixth grade adinkra stamp printing Make Art station.
Run by a second grader because sixth graders are too cool for school events.

Fourth grade Make Art landscape painting station.

If you need more info on how I do set up and run our art show, you can read more here, here or here.If you need me I'll be napping under my desk while students paint. Come on, spring break--I could use a daily nap about now!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Mad Love for Monet

I know, I know, I know, I post about this lesson every year.  But REALLY, what's not to love???? Heres this year's kindergartners painting:

And here they are finished and hanging in preparation for the art show that's only a WEEK AWAY:

This year's art show is going to be amazing, I just know it.  I'm sure that my worrying and lack of sleep is really what will make the difference. 
Until next Friday, I'll be running purely on caffeine.
Happy art teaching!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Black Metallic Clay Mask Magic

Somewhere someone invented this lesson.  It wasn't me.  I don't even remember when or where I saw it first, and I've never carried out this lesson until this year.  My fifth graders have been learning about four artists: Paul Klee, Joan Miro, Pablo Picasso and Jasper Johns.  Right after our Picasso posters, we made small clay faces using slab methods. We just used low fire white clay, and students could make whatever sort of face they wanted, but texture was strongly encouraged. Students were also told to use straws to create holes along the top of their slab (to later add hair or other embellishments). Once fired, black acrylic paint was painted over it all (insert fifth grade whining here).  After the black paint dried, I gave out small amounts of liquid metallic acrylic paint and had students use their fingers to add it to their projects:

We learned the half-hitch knot and frayed yarn to add some oomph.
Oomph is a real made up technical term

The black adds something under the metallic paint, even when students used way more metallic than I advised.  These will be a great addition to our art show in two and half weeks!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Year of the Rooster

It should probably come as no surprise that I read blogs, and enjoy looking at other art teacher blogs to get ideas for my own classroom.  I saw this lesson on Mrs. Knight's Smartest Artists blog and decided it was time for some rooster painting with my sixth graders.  
With all the yucky sickness going around (hello, looking at you, February) I was home feeling awful one day and made a little goal setting sheet tied to the Chinese New Year for my sixth graders.  We spent one class period filling those out and then got to work drawing roosters with pencil.  I actually had the students bring their chromebooks to art so they could find an image of a rooster that they liked, and had them use Google translate to translate one of their goals to Chinese.  Students drew their roosters with only pencil, but they did trace their Chinese writing with permanent marker.  Next we used chalk pastels (I really think I have an allergy to chalk, but that's what obsessive hand washing is for) and cotton swabs for the background.  We used only yellow and red paint the first day, applied with paint brushes and spread with hair picks (which I'd bought years ago for something else that didn't work out):

When students returned to art, we added some blue, then used tiny brushes for details:

This rooster really needs a beak.
Someone remind me to have this student add a beak.
[Side note, this is why we all need assistants or secretaries,
'cause who can remember all of this stuff?!]

These will be displayed during our art show with their Chinese New Year goals worksheet, most likely mounted on black paper, because a little black fancies everything up.  
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